Home > READ First: The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Read First is a community-wide partnership in Tupelo/Lee County to ensure all our children reach their full potential. This initiative began with a partnership between United Way of Northeast Mississippi and the CREATE Foundation. Read First includes both Tupelo and Lee County school districts, which serve approximately 14,000 students. It also includes 55 daycare/childcare centers within the county. The community of Tupelo/Lee County has united and made a commitment to our children’s success.

Read First focuses on 3 underlying challenges that keep many young children from learning to read well: School Readiness, Student Attendance, and Summer Learning.

School Readiness: The two school districts, Head Start centers, childcare centers, and Lee County Excel By 5 have made great strides in just a few months by developing partnerships. Observations of kindergarten teachers, monthly meetings, childcare centers using school computer labs, and professional development opportunities are making a huge difference in developing strong relationships.

Student Attendance: The public school districts are diligently working on plans to reduce chronic absenteeism in the early years of school.

Summer Learning: Our summer learning group is actively gathering data on existing programs to develop a centralized source of information about summer learning opportunities.

Lee County is also a certified Excel By 5 community. Excel By 5 was already providing parents with numerous workshops and events in order for their children to begin school ready. Excel By 5 has made it possible for 1,200 children to receive books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. These two coalitions are working together and making huge strides in ensuring our children are prepared for school and are reading on grade-level by the end of third grade.

For more information about Read First and how to get involved, visit www.leecountyreads.org or contact Shelly Brooks at shelly@unitedwaynems.org or 662-841-9133.

Read First In the News


Tupelo/Lee County Joins Nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading 

The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading website


UNITED (WAY) APPROACH: Initiatives seeking to make impact on early education (Daily Journal)

READ First Coalition seeks to create learning directory (Daily Journal)

OUR OPINION: Early education initiatives worthwhile (Daily Journal)

Tupelo and Lee County join nationwide collaboration to improve third-grade reading (Daily Journal)